Professor, Brand Yourself!

On March 16 from 2:30 to 3:00 pm at the at GESS Dubai I delivered my “Professor, Brand Yourself!” workshopGESS (Global Educational Supplies & Solutions) Dubai is the largest education event not just in the UAE but across the entire Middle East. It’s the only event that brings together all levels of educationalists together, in one place.

“Professor, Brand Yourself!” is a personal branding workshop for individuals working in higher education, vocational, and leadership/management positions. However, it also appeals to anyone wanting to develop their personal brand and learn how to leverage social media to promote themselves professionally.

Watch a recording of my workshop below via YouTube (it was originally streamed live to my Facebook page):

The workshop was designed to help individuals understand what personal branding is and what it is not, why personal branding is important personally and professionally, and how to create your personal brand. Attendees don’t need prior personal branding experience to participate in the workshop, which is organized into the following three sections:

1. What is a Personal Brand?
2. Why Do I Need a Personal Brand?
3. How Do I Create a Personal Brand?

At the conclusion of the workshop attendees should understand how to:

1. Define personal branding and its relevance.
2. Identify the most effective social platforms.
3. Develop and promote your personal brand.

The presentation slides I used are shared below via Slideshare:

Social media offers individuals an excellent environment to promote their personal brand to strengthen their professional platform. However, if engaged carelessly or irresponsibly, social media can sink you faster than the Titanic after it met the iceberg. Certainly nobody is perfect, but if you consider the 7 career-saving social media strategies below you will be more likely to swim than sink in social media.

1. Add Value to Conversations: If all you do with social media is re-tweet and share the ideas of others then it is apparent you won’t offer a potential employer original thoughts and you most likely lack motivation and initiative. In short: don’t be boring!

2. Avoid Smack Talking or Trolling: Politics, religion, and sports are topics about which people are passionate, but when you go overboard emotionally you can get yourself into trouble. Even a casual comment on an article on Facebook or a reply to a Tweet can come back to haunt you. There are countless stories of people getting fired from a job before they even start it due to a careless tweet or flippant Facebook post.

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3. Don’t Discriminate: 34% of employers in CareerBuilder’s recruitment study reacted negatively to finding social media posts with discriminatory comments related to race, religion, and gender. Another 29% of employers reacted negatively to social media posts with discriminatory comments related to race, religion, and gender. And, even if your intent was to be humorous, keep in mind that comedy doesn’t often translate online or across cultures; something you might think is funny might be offensive to others.

4. Keep Private Info Private: Unless your name is Julian Assange, you’re likely not going to make friends or influence people by disclosing sensitive or confidential information on social media. And, no matter how quickly you might try to delete it, social media remembers. You might also inadvertently share private information in public, especially on Facebook, where most people seem to misunderstand the platform’s privacy policies.

5. Post Appropriate Pictures: 46% of the employers in CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment study said provocative or inappropriate photographs are a big red flag. Another 40% said finding information about candidates drinking or using drugs was another reason to pass.  In short: don’t put your faults and foils on display for a future employer to find. Christopher Affsa, an attorney at the Law Office of Daniel F. Affsa in Weymouth, Massachusetts, shared the following:

“I had a drunk driving client tell me she went to one bar and only had one drink. I checked her Facebook and her profile picture was of her raising a glass. Worse, on the night in question she checked into five bars.”

6. Present a Professional Persona: Ironically, one of the biggest errors people make is to overlook the opportunity social media offers them to elevate awareness of their personal brand. According to CareerBuilder’s annual social media recruitment study:

52% of employers research applicants online. Within that group, 60% look for information supporting the candidate’s qualifications; an additional 56% want to see a candidate’s professional online persona.

7. Use Good Grammer, err — Grammar: Learn your homophones! Your and you’re mean different things as do their, they’re, and there. Conversely:

37% of employers in CareerBuilder’s recruitment study  reacted favorably when they discovered that a candidate had great communication skills; 38% were further impressed when a candidate’s social media presence conveyed a professional image.

Have you been to my website, MatthewAGilbert.com, lately?

MatthewAGilbert.com-Hello

If not, or even if you have, please join me there and learn about my:

  • Teaching: review my Teaching Philosophy, Teaching Interests, and Research Interests. You can also view a list of courses  I have taught and courses I have developed, plus descriptions of the courses I have taught since 2007.
  • Training: read a list of the businesses, individuals, and organizations for whom I have provided corporate training, instructional design, and subject matter expert services.
  • Writing: review a list of my publications, including the book I published in 2015, edX E-Learning Course Development, along with this blog, scholarly papers, newspaper articles, magazine features, and online video courses I have written — plus works in which I am cited.
  • Speaking: explore the academic and professional events at which I presented scholarly papers or gave speeches. If you would like me to speak at your event or organization please reach out and contact me!
  • Consulting: learn about businesses, individuals, and organizations for whom I have created corporate training materials and academic curriculum for onsite presentation and online delivery; develop websites and WordPress blogs; and provide expert witness opinion for lawsuits involving social media.

See you at http://www.matthewagilbert.com!

Some people claim to have a “hunger” for knowledge, but have you ever had your hunger fed in class — literally? Twice in less than one week I experienced this very phenomenon in two separate classes.

During the first experience — in an “operations management” class on Thursday, July 19, 2012 — I led my students in a gastronomically rewarding “class exercise”: order pizza!

To complete this exercise we had to define our specifications, locate and select a supplier, and order our inventory. A photo of the whiteboard on which we worked out all of the variables can be found below:

Pedagogy Meets Pizza in My "Operations Management" Class

We then had to pay for and — most importantly — eat the inventory when it was delivered 30 minutes later. The class consensus: great success!

Not only was this in-class exercise a success academically, but since we selected Domino’s Pizza as our supplier, the entire experience was full of the spirit of Ramon De Leon and his famous #RamonWOW!

If you’ve somehow never heard of Ramon, consider this: if ever there was a great example of someone whose social media strategy embodies the essence of an individual and his organization, it is Ramon DeLeon.

Not only is he the managing partner of six Domino’s Pizza franchises in Chicago, but he is “The Pizza Guy to Know in downtown Chicago!”

Ramon symbolizes how a small business owner can leverage social media to build a business. Beyond his effervescent presence in Chicago he has spoken at conferences around the world, sharing his infectious energy that he calls #RamonWOW!

Watch the 30 minute video below of Ramon delivering the keynote address at the 2010 Gravity Summit conference at UCLA and experience WOW:

The second experience occurred on the following Tuesday, July 24, during the last meeting of my buying behavior class at UCSB Extension.

In this instance one of my student groups gave an informative brand analysis presentation about Domino’s Pizza — and they even bought pizza for the class!

The presentation can be viewed below or directly at SlideShare.net.

After my class left, I tweeted @Ramon_DeLeon and @Domino’s letting them know about my students’ impressive presentation (below):

@MatthewAGilbert's Tweet to @Ramon_DeLeon and @Dominos

Less than eight hours later @Domino’s had posted a humorous and personable tweet in reply (below):

@Dominos Tweet to @MatthewAGilbert

All things considered it seems that pizza is unquestionably a powerful partner in pedagogy!

A short article titled “Dear Students With Unprofessional E-Mail Handles: Your Professors Notice,” in the Wired Campus section of the Chronicle of Higher Education website calls attention to the importance of e-mail: not just what you say, but the account from which you send your message.

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The article highlights an entertaining thread in the Chronicle of Higher Education Forum in which professors share both the often inappropriate and error-filled content of the messages and the peculiar address from which the messages are sent — one post elaborates on receiving an e-mail from an address titled “Shortysexy!”

This article caught my eye because I’ve experienced my share of odd e-mails from students. Mostly they are harmless oversights, but I have also  received some more “interesting” messages.

Once a student invited me to read his/her blog  (gender obscured to protect the innocent), telling me I would think it was funny. However, when I got there, I found several expletive-filled rants berating this person’s significant other for repeatedly cheating on him/her with someone my student proclaimed was a drug addict.

The posts were full of obscenities, uncomfortable personal details and description, on the injuries my student had and intended to inflict on his/her significant other. I was shocked and have since felt very awkward around this student.

Generally, I get what I call “ghost mail,” which is mail with no clear identification of who sent it, what school the sender attends or the class about which they are inquiring. Usually a “ghost mail” will include a message that reads something like “Mr. G : How come I didn’t get credit for that assignment from the other week?” — which of course does nothing to help that student receive points where they might be due.

Aside from forgetting some basic rules of written communication, I don’t think the senders of these “ghost messages” fully realize that, as an individual earning my income entirely as an adjunct instructor, I could potentially be teaching several classes in addition to theirs. Usually I am simultaneously juggling anywhere from four to eight on-line courses and two to four traditional classroom-based courses — so things can get a little confusing!

To minimize the occurrence of these misguided missives, I stress to my students the importance of not overlooking the obvious when sending an e-mail or even leaving a voicemail for someone. I tell them to always include their name and contact information while making sure to identify the school they attend and the course in which they are enrolled. Usually that helps, but I still get an errant e-mail now and then.

I also encourage students to think about what their e-mail address says about who they are — and to realize that on some level it communicates their “personal brand.” With e-mail commanding such a vital role in how we communicate with each other, having an immature or otherwise inappropriate e-mail can sometimes cause a problem — while a student is in school or, worse, when they are making the transition to a job in the “real world.”

I remember that e-mail was just starting to become more widely used during my undergraduate days at UC Santa Barbara (1992 to 1996). Back then the school automatically assigned e-mail address to students — with undergraduate accounts starting with a “u” and graduate accounts starting with a “g.”

Eventually the naming convention was standardized with some amalgamation of a student’s first and last name, but early-on you could request a specific name (though the “u” and the “g” were still used).

A friend of mine who has a sarcastic sense of humor requested the name “suck” so that his account was “usuck@…” Of course, this sounded funny when he gave his e-mail address to friends, but when a professor asked him for his e-mail address and he had to say what sounded like “you suck,” suddenly the joke was on him.

Likewise, during my tenure in human resources recruiting, I’ve seen some questionable e-mail addresses. I remember one address in particular: the applicant’s last name was “Kaul,” which by itself is just a typical-sounding surname.

However, this candidate wanted to be clever and, leveraging the phonetics of his/her last name used the e-mail address “kaul girl@…” – which is humorous when used with family and friends, but not as agreeable in a professional setting (well, aside from the “oldest profession” I suppose!).

So, what is the moral of this story? Simple: when it comes to e-mail, watch what you say and the address from which you say it!